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The Syriac chronicle of Zuqnin features accounts of the world from its creation to the eighth century A.D. Part III preserves much of the lost work of the late sixth-century Syriac historian, John of Ephesus, who described at length the persecution launched by the Chalcedonians against the adherents of Monophysitism; the Great Plague which broke out around the middle of the sixth century and which devastated the "whole world"; and three decades in Byzantium where he was exposed to the world of imperial and church politics at the time of Justinian (527-565). John's early admiration for the Emperor and his subsequent frustration with him are vividly portrayed.
Part IV deals with the seventh and eighth centuries. The entries are more developed for the few years after 715, while the accounts dealing with the period between 767 and 775 grow very detailed, even verbose. The rapcious economic policy of the early 'Abbasid caliphs is the main theme, a policy which turned the particularly wealthy province of the Jazira (northern Syria) into ruins, due to the blatant exploitation of its human and agricultural resources.
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